Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Man with the Golden Helmet - FINALLY!

For years as a kid, my siblings and I were creeped out by a painting my parents had. We never received a real explanation as to who the man in the painting was or the artist who painted it.

He was just there, always watching.

Imagine our shock when we found an identical painting in my aunt's basement! We were convinced he was following us!

Here is the man who has lingered in memory for years:

I had posted about this painting when I stumbled across it on the wall in a horror movie I watched called "Blood Freak". My interest was piqued anew, and I added a sidebar gadget to this blog asking for help with the painting's history. No one ever responded, however.

Yesterday, while messing with my blog layout, I decided to eliminate some stuff, that painting being one of them. I was talking with my buddy Jeff and he asked why I was curious about it. He started looking online, and I did again, as well.

At the same moment he sent me a link to the actual painting, I found it as well, by doing a less detailed search (old man in a helmet painting). After all these years, I had my answer.

The original painting is called "The Man with the Golden Helmet" and, up until recently, was believed to be a classic work by none other than Rembrandt. All those years of nightmares and refusals to walk by the "scary man" at night were thanks to Rembrandt!

Of course, now there is some debate as to whether it is by Rembrandt or not. I am not an art critic/follower/anything, so I have no clue. But it is cool to know the painting is considered a classic and was not, as I long believed, the product of some weird dude churning out creepy paintings in his basement!

I guess knock-offs were mass-produced in the 60s or 70s, and this would explain why my mother and her sister both had copies. Maybe they got them after filling a few of the old S&H Green Stamp booklets.

Thanks to Jeff for helping me solve this little puzzle of childhood.


Some links to read more about this painting:

Time.com - The Man with the Golden Helmet

Web Gallery of Art - The Man with the Golden Helmet

The New York Times - In Search of the Real Thing


  1. Yeah! Rembrandt... that son-of-a...

  2. I wondered about that painting when I saw it in the sidebar, I'm glad you discovered the mystery!

  3. We had one of those creepy pictures of Jesus where his eyes followed you wherever you went in the room. I hated that picture.

  4. Very interesting.First time reading your blog.I added myself asa follower.You know My Parents had the SAME painting Hanging in the hallway.I didnt like it then,And I dont like it now LOL Stop by and leave a comment when your readin BLOGS

  5. We had a painting of a woman that freaked my brothers and sisters and I as kids. She hung in our kitchen over our table and her eyes seemed to follow us everywhere! My older siblings would tell me if I didn't do something the lady with the eyes would come get me. I always wondered what happened to her.

  6. gotta love those freaky paintings. my grandmother had a few that seemed to make her house exotic and rather frightful when the lights were turned down low. i visited a monastery in pittsburgh that had the freakiest pictures of Jesus (may have to blog that one day)...what were they thinking?

  7. Green Stamps...i think i still have the fishing pole my mom let me buy with those stupid things. We spent hours licking and pasting those things into books just to get a card table and some chairs. ugh.

  8. What the hell are green stamps?!

    Dude, that painting would freak any kid out walking down the hallway in the dark in the dead of night. Any nightmares about him walking out of the painting and walking into your bedroom? I'm sure glad my parents loved paintings of ships and battle scenes instead of creepy old men. Lol.

  9. Glad the mystery is solved and you know who to vent your rage on during therapy.

  10. I remember green stamps. I don't remember ever getting anything this cool with them, though.

  11. Jeff: Damn creepy artists!

    Zac: You and me both!

    Dr. Monkey: I feel your pain.

    John: Thanks for stopping by.

    Kate: Maybe it's best not to know! hahaha

    Brian: I don't know, sounds creepy!

    Tom: Hahaha! Remember the Brady Bunch episode set around a similar idea?

    Gabby: Ack! Bad enough he was in the painting, didn't need him coming OUT of the painting! And Green Stamps were small stamps you got when you purchased your groceries. You could save them in books and redeem the books for items at the S&H Green Stamp store!

    Cal: Yeah, except he's long dead! hahaha

    Megan: No, neither do I. Especially if this painting was one of the items!!!

  12. I am not fan of horror movies per se, but I do like ghostly mysteries. The Others and The Ophanage were two of my favorites. Ghost and Ghost Town were funny and romantic.

  13. This is sooo funny. That painting has been hanging on my wall for 40 years through 3 homes and 2 moves. I never thought of it as frightening or creepy BUT years ago the girl that babysat for us complained that it frightened her. So, after that, when I knew she was going to babysit, I would tape on different eyes and that really freaked her out *(laughing)*

  14. We had this picture in our dining room in the early 60s. A family friend once said to me when I was little "That's your dad when he was in the army." I don't know how many years it was before I realized he was goofing on me.

  15. I just got here through a search link..
    I study art history,.. most recent assumption is that Carel Fabritius, a Rembrandt pupil painted it. any questions, skaryana@uw.edu

  16. Ha! Yes, one of those "starving artists" companies put this on black velvet, which was very popular at the time, and I remember that it was EVERYWHERE, together with the black girl with the necklace, if I remember! The technically brilliant thing is that, of course, it didn't use gold but yellow paint for the helmet, and gave the effect of gold with shadow. Lovely job! I looked it up because some figurine painters are now using this technique instead of metallics.

  17. My parents had (well, still have, actually) a painting of The Man with the Golden Helmet; however, this was painted by a very dear, and quite talented, family friend; as she sat in the museum, viewing the original.

    Evidently, it took several weeks to complete.

    It hangs today, in our home, as a cherished memento of an ineffable friendship; which spans the passing from this life of the woman who painted it. It is my favorite artwork throughout my years of growing up in this home.

    I have been told, but cannot confirm, nor disprove, that the man in the helmet was actually what amounts to a fireman of the 1600's. That may be; but, to me, the Man will always be a comforting vision of authority and stability in the midst of a country that seems to be trending toward unrestrained economic, political and social insanity.

    Thanks for posting about him.

  18. I have this same painting, but it is painted on particle board, or at least it is backed with particle board and signed by Pablo Diaz, or something like that. Has anyone heard of that artist?

  19. true story about[ the man with the golden helmet]
    in 1976 we bought ou first house spanish style
    and at the front door was the man with the golden helmet later we sold the house and all the furniture along with the man in the helmet went to the secondhand shop so we forgot all about him
    now in 2010 I was with my daughter in the furinture shop which was once the seckonhand shop and there was the man with the golden helmet we enquired about him the dealer checked her records to find he was the same one we sold all those years ago
    it seems he never made it to the auctions
    he was placed in a warehouse and only came out after the shop was revamped into a new furniture shop he was put up but never sold
    so now he is back with me looking over my shoulder in my computer room
    believe it or not true story

  20. Huh, we have been given a plate with this painted on it - hate the darn thing. Who in their right mind would want such a creepy old guy hanging on their wall anyway?

  21. Why would someone want to eat of a plate with his face on it???

  22. The Man in the Golden Helmet painting has been in my parent's home since the 60's when we lived in Germany. As I read the comments it must have indeed been quite popular in the 60's. It is now hung over the fireplace in the living room of my father's new townhouse. I will have to look and see if it says Rembrandt on it as I never paid much attention. I never liked the picture much and actually hadn't seen it in years but as we decorated his new living room with the paintings and prints my parents got while we were in Germany over the fireplace was the only place it would fit as it is quite large. He has much nicer prints and paintings, but I guess that old man will be a permanent and prominent fixture for some years to come.

  23. i have a original painting or one of his students paintings man with hat'' does anyone know whats it worth?

  24. I also grew up with this picture. I guess I'm weird because I actually liked it as a kid. I used to pretend that I lived in an old (obviously)dark, candle lit castle and I'd walk down the hall and see this man. We lost our house as a kid and seeing this painting actually brings back fond memories. ;0)

  25. I saw it on a episode of Bewitched next to her front door. We have a copy of this with an article about it taped to the back.

  26. We had a copy of this painting at our house growing up, too. It was a gift from my aunt (my dad's sister-in-law). She thought it looked so much like my dad, and it really does!! :) So your "creepy man" is a doppelganger for my dad -- who wasn't creepy at all. :)

  27. This is amazing. My grandparents had a copy of the painting in their living room in Ingersoll, Canada. I never asked them who painted it, or what significance it had for them. It was merely one of many pictures/paintings/plates that adorned their living room walls. However, it did always stand out to me as a little creepy. But there was a lot of the depth to the photo. The illusion of light through the use of colour is astounding. I have not seen their copy for many years, as my grandparents house no longer stands, and they died a few years ago. I wonder where their copy ended up.

    A couple of years ago in Toronto, I was at a bar on Roncesvalles Ave. I went outside for a smoke, and next to the bar was an art gallery of sorts. On a wall, there was what appeared to be a copy of the Man With The Golden Helmet, in puzzle form. The pieces had obviously been glued together. I hadn't seen or thought of the image for probably 10 years at this point. It stirred up some memories, and a strange feeling of being watched overcame me too! Perhaps one day I will own a copy of this painting, which is enshrouded in mystery.

  28. My parents also had the same painting of the man with the golden helmet. It looked like his eyes were following us everywhere and from time to time i would see him in other peoples houses. Now I think hes kind of cool but hes creepy! so mean and evil looking! aI was also told horror stories about the painting..it comes to life at night..he visits your dreams..follows you home at night..yeah! Glad when my folks moved and sold the thing! Kind of neat to see it though after all these years!

  29. Our family also owns The man with the golden helmet. Rembrandt painting signed Betyna ..... city Prague...w.zbynek@gmail.com

  30. I have grown up with that picture all my life and now I have it in my home. I have never been frightened of it as it has always reminded me of my Grandfather who I loved very much. I love the stern look , it has always made me think that he was sizing you up for some Halberd action. I love this picture even though it's only a print it has always been one of my many treasured possessions.

  31. My great uncle who had a lot of money and lived in a 7 bedroom mansion filled with all kinds of Victorian furniture, paintings and had a very expensive grandfather clock I believed he purchased in London and had it shipped to the states also had this painting! Everything in house creeped me out like an old castle when I was growing up but this painting fit into a different level of creepiness, weird feeling seeing this painting! Well he passed on and I inherited all his paintings during a time I was moving a lot and settling into my career. I abandoned one house that had all his paintings hung and this year was wondering what gold mine I had lost! Well this was the only painting I could remember well, I searched it out, purchased one and can comfortably and happily say I think he had a reprint!

    1. At least you were able to reclaim a piece of your past!

  32. My parents had this painting in the living room of our house when I was a kid. Thanks for posting it!

  33. I have a copy also of this painting does anyone know how I can tell if it is worth anything?